WCAV-WVAW-WAHU | Charlottesville, Virginia | News, Weather & Sports

Recent Weather Trends Making Poison Ivy Worse

July 30, 2013

The wet summer is causing several weeds and vines to grow more quickly than normal, including poison ivy. And research suggests that climate change may be making the plants bigger and more toxic.

The Cogill family, from Charlottesville, was enjoying a nice walk on the Monticello Trail on Tuesday, when 9-year-old Ada saw some poison ivy and warned her brother.

"Sid was about to walk right through it," Ada said. "So I pointed it out to him, 'Sid there's a patch of poison ivy that you're about to walk through!'"

Ada's had it before, so she knows why it is important to avoid.

"I hate being itchy like that," Ada said. "And having to scratch it because it's too itchy."

Charlottesville's trails planner, Chris Gensic, is noticing it more.

"It's been a really good year for plants to grow," Gensic said. "So we're seeing the poison ivy growing a little faster than it normally does."

At times, the poison ivy is right near the walking trail. Gensic pointed to several examples in Quarry Park and Riverview Park. Gensic says park officials focus on clearing it from trails and baseball fields, but they can't get rid of all of it.

"There's also whole areas where it could be in there and we're not just going to chemical bomb the whole area," Gensic said.

Scientists say climate change could be making it worse. A study from the National Academy of Sciences says poison ivy especially feasts on rising carbon dioxide, making it grow faster and more toxic.

"Best thing you can do is know what the plant is and avoid it," Gensic said.

Ada's 5-year-old brother, Sid, knows some rhymes that can help out with that.

"Leaves of three, let them be," Sid said. "Hairy vine, no friend of mine."

The plant is distinguished by its shiny leaves in a pattern of three, and a red, hairy vine that it uses to scale trees.

But it can also come in contact with humans through other ways, like pets.

"I definitely do see it this year a lot more," said Sammy Swale, who runs Sammy's Dogwalking Service in Charlottesville. He has to be careful that the pets don't take the toxic poison ivy oils back to their owners.

"Dogs brushing up against it, playing in it, running in it, and just walking through it," Swale said. "Then you put your hands and arms on it of course because the dog rubs up against you."

Swale keeps the dogs away from trails to avoid coming into contact with poison ivy. He also protects himself by always wearing long pants.

"It's very painful, and I don't want it on my legs," Swale said.

The comments sections of Newsplex.com are designed for thoughtful, intelligent conversation and debate. We want to hear from our viewers, but we only ask that you use your best judgment. E-mail is required, but will not be displayed with comment.

  • Comments cannot be profane or vulgar. We will not post comments that use profanity or cross the lines of good taste.
  • We will not post comments that use hate speech. Slurs, stereotypes and violent talk aren’t welcome on our website.
  • Comments should not attack other readers or people featured in our stories personally. Any accusations should be backed up with facts.
  • Any comment we post will be posted in its entirety. We do not edit any comment that we post.
  • Comments should contribute to the discussion. We will not post comments that don't advance the discussion. Flaming and/or trolling will not be tolerated.
  • Comments should not attack other posters. Let's keep the focus on the content of the story.

    As a host Newsplex.com welcomes a wide spectrum of opinions. However this is a site that we host. We have a responsibility to all our readers to try to keep our comment section fair and decent. For that reason The Newsplex reserves the right to not post or to remove any comment.

    If you have any ideas to improve the conversation or this section let us know. Send an e-mail to webmaster@newsplex.com.


powered by Disqus
The Charlottesville Newsplex 999 2nd Street S.E. Charlottesville, VA 22902 434.242.1919 – Main 434.220.7522 - Newsroom
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 217668081